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Top 30 Lowest Currencies In Africa (2023)

As a continent that is still struggling to find its way economically, there is still a lot to be desired as regards the value of her money. The lowest currencies in Africa are therefore some of the currencies belonging to the least developed countries on the continent, whose economies have not grown sufficiently for their currencies to have high demand, which in turn leads to high value.

Challenges facing much of Africa, and inhibiting economic development include; lack of infrastructure, corruption, insecurity, war, and lack of human capacity.

Some countries suffer these problems to a greater extent; and this is reflected in the currency exchange rates. The poorest currencies in Africa did not suddenly appear; they are caused by years of unresolved fundamental problems.

Top 30 Lowest Currencies In Africa

1. Sao Tome & Principe Dobra

Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 22,823.990504 STD

The Sao Tome & Principe Dobra is easily the weakest currency in Africa with a scandalous exchange rate of 1 USD = 22,823.990504 STD.

Sao Tome & Principe is an island country located off the western coast of Central Africa; the country is very small; it only measures 964KM2, and has a population of around 223,000 people.

Sao Tome & Principe’s economy has traditionally been based on agriculture; this is because the country has very good volcanic soil. In recent decades the country has done very well to establish state owned agricultural enterprises, and some of their biggest products include; cocoa, copra, palm kernels, and coffee.

While Sao Tome & Principe’s Dobra is a very weak, the country’s economy is not hopeless; the country is growing in terms of infrastructure, and though some of it is funded by foreign donors, the country is at least making progress; providing jobs, and providing food for its people.

2. Sierra Leonean Leone

Exchange Rate: 1USD is Le 19,750.00 SLL

Sierra Leonean Leone is another country’s money that is noteworthy because of how weak it is; this currency exchanges for around 19,750.00 SLL to 1 US Dollar.

Sierra Leone has this type of currency because it has had a very turbulent history. This is a country on the western coast of Africa; with a population of 7 million people living in a land area that measures 71740KM2.

Sierra Leone has suffered war, coups, and various forms of civil unrest. This has not made it attractive for investments, and so the economy has suffered and so have the people. Sierra Leone has some advantages such as an extensive coastline,

3. Guinea-Bissau

Exchange Rate: 1USD is 9,953.00 GNF

Guinea- Bissau is a country in West Africa; it is the only country with Islam as its predominant religion, and Portuguese as its dominant language. Guinea Bissau also has a coastline into the Atlantic. However, Guinea Bissau is a much smaller country; it measures 36,125 KM2, and has a population of 2,026,778.

Guinea Bissau has one of the lowest currencies in Africa; the currency presently exchanges for around 9,953.00 GNF for 1USD.

Guinea Bissau’s currency is so poor because the country has suffered from political instability which has hindered its growth.

4. Ugandan Shilling

Exchange Rate: 1USD is USh 3,778.85

The Ugandan Shilling the currency of Uganda; it is one of the least valuable currencies in Africa at the moment.

Uganda is a country in east Africa; it was colonized by British, and gained independence in 1962. Uganda has a land area of 421,034KM2, and a population of around 45 million people.

Uganda has not been very fortunate as regards leadership; it has suffered several coups as well as dictatorships and the attendant brutality that come with them. As a result the economy has remained stagnant, and the people have been impoverished.

5. Malagasy Ariary

Exchange Rate: 1USD is AR3,735.00

The Malagasy Ariary currently exchanges for AR3,735.00 to 1USD. This is a very low exchange rate for any currency, and no doubt comes as a disadvantage to the country in terms of purchasing power.

The Malagasy Ariary is the currency of Madagascar; and Madagascar is a country off the coast of East Africa; around 2000 miles away from the continent. The country measures 587,041 km2, making it the fourth largest island in the world; with a population of 28.8 million people.

The Malagasy Ariary is so weak because the country has suffered various problems such as coups and the attendant insecurity that come with them. The country has not been able to attract investors of the quality and quantity that it needs to grow its economy.

Madagascar has a great diversity of plant and animal life; and there is great potential for tourism in the country. Other important economic sectors in the country include; agriculture, banking, mining, clothing, and services.

6. Burundi Franc

Exchange Rate: 1USD is FBu 2,819

The Burundi Franc is another one of East Africa’s poor currencies, although its decline has accelerated rapidly in recent months.

Burundi is a country in east Africa; it is landlocked, and lies between Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country is also quite small; it only measures 27,834 km2, and has a population of 12.5 million people.

Burundi’s Franc is so low because the country has not been able to maintain peace for long periods. It has seen a series of ethnic cleansings, coups as well as outright wars. Such a turbulent country is hardly a place to make investments, and so the economy remains poor.

 7. Tanzanian Shilling

Exchange Rate: 1USD is TSh2319.26

Tanzania’s shilling is another extremely low currency; it exchanges for around TSh2319.26 for 1 US Dollar. The Tanzanian Shilling is much like that of its neighbor Uganda.

Tanzania is a country in East Africa; it is near Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country also has a long coastline into the Indian Ocean.

Tanzania has suffered from an unstable government policies; during the 1960’s and 70’s the country became inclined to socialism. By the 80’s it turned back to capitalism, but its economy did not really recover. Then there was Idi Amin’s invasion in 1978, and the retaliation by the Tanzanian government. All these took a massive toll on the Tanzanian economy, the results of which are still being felt today.

8. Rwandan Franc

Exchange Rate: 1USD is RF 1127.05

Rwanda’s Franc has suffered a similar fate to the Francs of its neighbors; it sells at around 1127.05 RF to 1 US Dollar. Much of the weakness of this currency has also come within the last few months; it shows that the currency is on a strong decline.

Rwanda is a country in east Africa; with a population of 13.2 million people living in a land area of 26,338km2.

Rwanda has had a very turbulent history; it has seen a series of revolts, coups, assassinations, wars- including the famous Rwandan genocide. Even now, the country has a dictator in power. Rwanda has not been able to grow its economy; which is why its franc ranks among the smallest currencies on the continent.

9. Malawian Kwacha

Exchange Rate: 1USD is K1,025.42

The Malawian Kwacha is one of Africa’s least expensive currencies; it presently exchanges for around K1,025.42. While still low in value; the Malawian Kwacha has actually gained some weight in the last few months; its current trend is up, showing that it may continue to strengthen for some time to come.

The Malawian Kwacha is low in value because the economy is poor; and the economy is poor because it has a poor social structure. This country of 20.5 million people living in 118,484 km2 of land, has suffered the ill fate of having despotic rulers who have trampled on citizens’ rights, leading to countless protests and other forms of social unrest. The military have often been used to put down such protests, leading to loss of human lives.

10. Somali Shilling

Exchange Rate: 1USD is Sh585.00

The Somali Shilling has the indignity of featuring among Africa’s least performing currencies; it presently trades for about Sh585.00 to 1 USD. Nevertheless, the recent activity shows signs of strength. The Somali shilling is on the rise even though said rise is quite understandably slow.

The Somali Shilling is affected by a sore lack of economic development, which in turn is caused by the weak social structure of the country. Somalia has suffered from decades of conflicts caused by greedy and unscrupulous politicians. Even now the country is deeply divided and tense.

These conditions are not ideal for any kind of growth; the country has therefore lost a good portion of its wealthy and enterprising citizens many of who have settled in Kenya, Uganda, and so on.

The following represents a more complete list of the 30 lowest currencies in Africa.

Rank Country Exchange Rate Location
1 Sao Tome & Principe Dobra  1 USD = 22,823.990504 STD Central Africa
2 Sierra Leonean Leone 1USD is Le 19,750.00 SLL West Africa
3 Guinea-Bissau 1USD is 9,953.00 GNF West Africa
4 Malagasy Ariary 1USD is AR3,735.00 East Africa
5 Ugandan Shilling 1USD is USh 3,778.85 East Africa
6 Tanzanian Shilling 1USD is TSh2319.26 East Africa
7 Burundi Franc 1USD is FBu 2,819 East Africa
8 Rwandan Franc 1USD is RF 1127.05 East Africa
9 Malawian Kwacha 1USD is K1,025.42 East Africa
10 Somali Shilling 1USD is 568 SOS East Africa
11 Cape Verde 1USD is 539.77Central African CFA franc West Africa
12 Burkina Faso West African CFA franc 1USD is CFA541 West Africa
13 Cote d’Ivoire 1USD is  540.957 CFA Francs West Africa
14 Togo 1USD is 540.957 CFA Franc West Africa
15 Benin Republic 1USD is 540.957 CFA Francs West Africa
16 Gabon 1USD is 539.77 Central African CFA franc Central Africa
17 Mali CFA 1USD is XOF541.00 West Africa
18 Niger CFA 1USD is XOF541 West Africa
19 Senegal CFA 1 USD is XOF541 West Africa
20 Cameroon’s West African CFA francs 1USD is 538.724 XAF Central Africa
21 Comoros 1USD is 406.55 Comorian franc Southeast Africa
22 Nigerian Naira 1 USD is NGN437.68 West Africa
23 Zimbabwean Dollar 1USD is K361.9 ZWD Southern Africa
24 Angolan Kwanza 1 USD = 565.00 AOA Central Africa
25 Malian Franc 1 USD = 614.28 XOF West Africa
26 Liberian Dollar 1 USD = 169.12 LRD West Africa
27 Djiboutian Franc 1 USD = 177.88 DJF East Africa
28 South Sudanese Pound 1 USD = 130.26 SSP East Africa
29 Kenyan Shilling 1 USD = 138.65 Ksh. East Africa
30 Algerian Dinar 1 USD = 137 Algerian Dinars North Africa
31 Cape Verdean escudo 1 USD = 104.08 CVE West Africa
32 Mozambican metical 1 USD = 63.84 MZN East Africa
33 Gambian dalasi 1 USD = 61.15 GMD West Africa



The lowest currencies in Africa have traditionally come from sub Saharan countries which are mostly poor and economy boosting infrastructures. However, despite how grim this list might look, a closer observation will show that many of these countries are starting to show depth in their economies, and that is in turn reflected by the gains in their respective currencies.


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